The Tampa Bay Lightning missed out on a crucial point Wednesday night when it lost to the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime. Alexander Ovechkin scored on a wrist shot at 4:09 of overtime, extending their lead on the Lightning by three points in the Southeast Division. Ovechkin’s goal spoiled Lightning goaltender Dustin Tokarski’s first NHL start, but he did tally an impressive 30 saves in his debut.
The Lightning scored back-to-back power play goals after trailing 1-0 to the Capitals in the first period. After spending too much time in its own defensive zone, Tampa Bay began to apply pressure on Washington, eventually beating Tomas Vokoun on the man-advantage. Ryan Malone tied the game at 7:25 of the second period and Teddy Purcell extended the lead with his 20th goal of the season with 1:18 left in the period. Purcell now has seven multi-point games this season.
An effective power play, a piece that had been missing for Tampa Bay since the 2011 post season, is contributing to the team’s recent success. The Lightning is 8-for-20 on the road in most recent attempts.
Tampa Bay began playing its 1-3-1 defensive scheme in the third period, preventing Washington from getting much time in the offensive zone. The Lightning then began the dump and defend strategy, eventually shooting themselves in the foot when it went over 10 minutes without registering a shot on net. Vokoun gave up plenty of juicy rebounds in the waning minutes of the third, but Lightning forwards failed to capitalize on them.
In all honesty, the third period was not pretty. Tampa Bay completely took focus off the offensive side of the game, giving Washington a 12-0 shot advantage before registering a shot on goal. In the final minutes of the third period, Marcus Johanssonn took advantage of a less than impressive clear by the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring an unassisted goal with 3:58 left to tie the game.
The Lightning needs to find a way to balance the 1-3-1 without losing focus of the importance of applying more offensive pressure.